A chance reporter, reporting for CNN-IBN from Bhopal. Has reported for the Sun Magazine, Delhi MidDay, Hindustan Times, Asian Age and Sahara Samay in the past.
Betrayed, cheated, robbed and mugged
Posted on: 10:30 PM IST Mar 14, 2011 IST
If the government hikes power tariff by faking losses and subsequently siphons off over Rs 1000 crore that is shown as subsidy provided to single light connection households and five horse power pumps what should the people of Madhya Pradesh feel? Betrayed, cheated, robbed, mugged or something else? The choice is vast. Only those for whom, light comes just from the sun, have been spared.
The Madhya Pradesh government in its annual statement of accounts for the year 2007-08, that was tabled on the floor of the Vidhan Sabha and is thus a public document for anyone to see, said ,over Rs 1600 crores was given as help to the state electricity board. Now there are three government power distribution companies that availed this help. The annual reports of these three companies that were again tabled on the floor of the Vidhan Sabha, however, just mentions around Rs 569 crores as help received. Where has the remaining over Rs 1000 crore vanished no one knows. Neither does any one from the government wants to know.
And this is not the end of the story. This Rs 569 crore that was accepted as help from the government by the three power distribution companies in the annual reports was done only after the Madhya Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Commission (MPERC) asked about what had happened of the government help. The three companies had filed true up petitions before the commission asking for tariff hikes on grounds that they had suffered losses to the tune of Rs 2700 crore but had surprisingly forgotten to mention f the government help that could have brought down the losses by Rs1600 crores. These true up petitions are again public documents that have been put up on the MPERC website. The twist to the tale is that in 2007-2008 the then Chief Secretary Mr Rakesh Sahni who was the chairman of the Electricity Board as well has post retirement been appointed the chairman of MPERC.He is now deciding when and how power tariff can be hiked
The true up petitions filed by these three distribution companies also point towards the extent to which they could go to extract money from every household in the form of tariff hikes. They claimed they had incurred around Rs 1392 crores as operational and maintenance cost including employee costs but surprisingly settled for Rs 970. crore when the commission pointed to the lapses. So why was this expense jacked up by around Rs 400 crore? How can there be such a huge difference when the money has already been spent?
And it is not just the money spent. When it came to earnings the three companies claimed they had earned around Rs 6865 crores but the regulatory commission made them accept that they had earned around 7053 crores. Can there be a correction of over 200 crores? And how can the government justify a power hikes when all claims are found and accepted to be false.
Mr Shivraj Singh Chauhan who took over as the chief minister of MP in November 2005 spares no opportunity in blaming the Central government for the power crisis in MP. Before the last parliamentary polls in 2009 he even went on a five KM walk that he called coal Satyagrah alleging adequate coal was not being fed to the power plants of the state. This son of a farmer, however, is not concerned about Rs 1000 crore, of which there is no account.
Power in Madhya Pradesh was supplied at an average of Rs 3.48 per unit in 2007. It has been hiked to Rs 4.22 per unit in 2011 on grounds that huge losses were suffered. How these losses were manufactured and who were the actual beneficiaries who walked away with thousands of crores of public money can be known if there is an independent probe. But who will conduct this independent probe and on whose orders? Mr Chauhan you owe an answer to the people of Madhya Pradesh.